Anderson University College of Business

Jacob Oster: Accounting on a Strong Foundation

Today, Jacob Oster works with digits, integers, and formulae. But as a student at Anderson University, he always felt like more than a number.

That's among the reasons Oster said Anderson University was the right choice for him—along with the lifelong relationships he gained and the academic training that prepared him for a career as an accountant. In fact, when taking his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, Jacob scored so well that he won the prestigious Elijah Sells Award. Jacob has also given back to his alma mater by teaching accounting classes as an adjunct professor in the College of Business.

jacob oster
Jacob Oster
Graduated from Anderson University: 2019
Degree: BS in Business - concentrations in Accounting, Financial Economics and Supply Chain Management
Title: Audit staff, Elliott Davis Greenville, South Carolina

How did you discover Anderson University?
I was born and raised in Anderson. Like many young people, I wanted to leave my home town and attend a large public university. But when it came time to apply for schools, a high school counselor suggested I apply to AU. When I came to campus for scholarship interviews I felt an immediate connection to AU. Of all the schools I considered, and all the schools I toured, Anderson was by far the most welcoming. I never once felt like a number during the admissions process, which was huge for me. After lots of thought, prayer and deliberation, I made the determination that AU was the place for me. It ended up being the best decision for me for undergrad.

Let’s talk about your college experience.

I was in the Honors Program when I was there. I have a lot of really fond memories of that program. We had so much fun starting out in school together and working through the Honors Program curriculum. That was a big part of my first two years before I moved into my core College of Business classes. Most of my fondest memories from school really are the College of Business professors. I was very active within the College of Business and worked a lot with Kristi Harton, helping plan events and being involved with a number of activities.

What was the most fun?

Student activities puts on so many fun events, whether it’s an 80s skate night or Fall Fest. Having all your friends together and building community was such a blast. Also, I was very involved with RUF campus ministry, so I attended a lot of retreats and group activities with my friends from RUF.

What are some ways your Anderson University education has helped you professionally?

Having a strong and core understanding of accounting is critical to your job and also obtaining your CPA license. I can’t stress enough how strong a foundation I received from the College of Business professors Terri Taylor and Dr. Chris Neuenschwander—they’re such incredible people and set us all up for success going into grad school. There’s a lot you have to learn on the job, of course, but the core understanding of those accounting principles come from those classes I took at Anderson.

After graduation, I went to Wake Forest for my Masters of Accountancy. I felt my accounting foundation from Anderson set me up for success in grad school. I learned a great deal in grad school, but I was already so prepared for the CPA exam as a result of the the core accounting education I received at AU. Without that strong foundation I don’t think I would have been successful in grad school and definitely not successful on the CPA exam.

When I was in grad school, right before the pandemic hit, I got back my first exam score and I had passed. I’ll never forget how Mrs. Taylor, Dr. Neuenschwander and Dr. Whitehead FaceTimed me to congratulate and encourage me. That’s just a testament to those professors as people and also the culture of Anderson—when you graduate, that’s not the end of your relationship with AU.

Did your wife go to Anderson University?

She did. She had the same undergrad degree as me, the same three concentrations. Among my most fun memories of school were going through it with Sara. She went to Wake Forest as well, where she studied Business Analytics. She’s now a business analyst at Global Lending Services. We did meet at Anderson through the Honors Program.


At the end of the day, what gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

A unique part of Anderson is that you have to work very closely with the people in your class, especially accounting. You’re with that same group of 25-30 people and you’re working through these classes over two to three years, and it fosters a real sense of community among students and their professors. Everyone is willing to help each other, willing to help other people learn, and willing to help other people succeed.

What career advice would you give to someone interested in entering the financial field?

Get as many internships as you can have. The opportunities for internships are starting earlier, especially in the accounting field. It’s not uncommon to intern at a large accounting firm after your sophomore or junior year. There is also a lot of benefit to interning at a local firm while you’re in school. The more internships you can have, the better. You are interviewing for a full-time job at the company, but also you are kind of interviewing them in a way to see if they could be a good fit for you. The more experience you have, the better to find out where you want to be, especially in today’s job market.

jacob oster
Jacob Oster
Graduated from Anderson University: 2019
Degree: BS in Business - concentrations in Accounting, Financial Economics and Supply Chain Management
Title: Audit staff, Elliott Davis Greenville, South Carolina